Locked in a tight playoff race and their schedule dwindling, the Rays face an intense final few weeks. That's just fine with pitcher David Price, who said the stretch run is a fun time.
"Whenever you've got the amount of games that we have left, every game is just as important as the last one," Price said. "But when it gets down to having 25 games left [before Wednesday] or even single-digit games left, the emphasis on those games, it's huge. So we just need to focus in every day. We don't need to worry about trying to win three in a row or having some winning streak. [We need to] win games right now and focus in on the single game at hand. And that's what we've done all year."
Price might not be worried about any potential three-game winning streaks, but he can help the Rays get one Thursday night, when they close their four-game set against the Angels in Anaheim. Tampa Bay won its second straight Wednesday following a five-game losing streak.
The Rays hold a lead for the second American League Wild Card spot, 2 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees. The Angels, by contrast, are far out of the playoff race, but have won nine of their past 12.
"They have a lot of guys up right now who are getting chances," Price said. "And whenever that happens, they're going to go out there and give you every bit of ability and every bit of emotion and energy that they have. And whenever somebody's doing that, that makes that environment better, it makes that team better, tougher."
The Angels will counter Price with right-hander Jerome Williams, who is trying to earn himself a spot in a starting rotation for next season. He's made strides toward that goal lately, with a 2.93 ERA over his past 15 1/3 innings, spanning two starts and one relief appearance. Williams, who tossed a quality start at Milwaukee on Saturday, said the key was keeping his sinker down in the zone.
"That's my main pitch," he said. "That's what I have to get over for strikes, and then I can work off that. Earlier part of the game, I couldn't really find the strike zone. And then I started using my secondary pitches, and then once my sinker started working, I was fine."
Price has dazzled in 12 outings since he came off the disabled list on July 12, going 7-2 with a 2.12 ERA, a .216 opponents' average and a 67-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He did suffer his first loss since July 12 on Friday at Oakland, although he still allowed only three earned runs over seven innings.
Despite those results, Price said the time off while on the DL hasn't led to him feeling fresher physically than at this time last year.
"I'm not a guy that gets sore, that goes through that type of stuff. I generally feel very good all year long," he said. "The day after I'm pitching, I'm playing long toss, and more times than not, I come back into the training room on that Day 1 and I tell them I can pitch again today. That's just kind of how my body's built, how my arm works. I do feel fresh. I don't remember feeling drained in the past, but I'm sure that time off is going to serve a little bit of a purpose and keep me a little fresher at the end."
Rays: Young making good impression
Delmon Young went 2-for-5 on Tuesday, when he made his first start for the Rays since rejoining the team. Young, who signed a Minor League deal after the Phillies released him, is 3-for-8 thus far with Tampa Bay.
"I had already been playing all year, so it wasn't like I was going into the beginning of the season without playing," said Young, who hit .261 for Philadelphia, where he last played on Aug. 8. "I just had to do a couple of simple things and then repeat them."
• Wil Myers' two home runs Wednesday were his first since Aug. 14, and also provided his first three RBIs since Aug. 20.
Angels: Free passes for Trout
Mike Trout drew another walk Wednesday, his 36th in his last 34 games -- the most in the Majors over that span. He owns a .533 on-base percentage during that stretch.
With 85 walks for the season, Trout already has 18 more than he collected last year.
• There remains no timetable for when second baseman Howie Kendrick will return to action, although he ran Wednesday and is "feeling a little better," according to manager Mike Scioscia. Kendrick has been out since Aug. 5, with a sprained left knee, but Scioscia believes he will return before the end of the season.
• The teams' season series is tied at three going into their final meeting.
• Price hasn't faced the Angels this season. He tossed 16 scoreless innings against them over two starts last year, surrendering only eight hits.